Tag Archives: Cataloguing

From Aberystwyth, with even more love for the CILIP Cymru Wales 2018 conference (part 2)


Discussing & voting

In my last post I talked about some of the keynote speakers that I enjoyed, in this post I would like to also include some of the breakout sessions that I attended, as well as the evening event.  The very first one I went to appealed to my ‘arty’ side as it included a photography project. Emma Adamson (@BookishEmma), Celia Jackson (senior lecturer, Photography), and Barbara Colley from the University of South Wales talked about a project between library staff and photography students.  The project helped library staff get over a difficult time of change and transition, whilst giving a group of students, who hadn’t really engaged with the library previously, the opportunity to have their work taken seriously and have their photographs decorate the library space, giving them some ownership and investment in the library.  Library staff got to vote on the final works, and an evening event welcomed the participating students and their families to see the results.  Staff and library users felt that the photographs fitted into the space so well it was if they had always been there, but they also generated conversations especially when they were being hung.  In our session we were then given the chance to vote on what our favourite image was, and we had time to peruse the images and discuss what we liked about them.  One of the prints will be given a permanent position in a counselling room.  The project worked really well for all involved, and is something that could be taken up by other institutions quite easily.

Later in the morning there was a key note talk from Professor Jon Anderson (Cardiff University) (@LitAtlasWales)about Literary Atlas Wales.  Described as “…an interactive online atlas that offers a range of maps which locate English-language novels set in Wales.” This project sounded absolutely fascinating (and I wish I had his job!!).  Out of 323 English language books based in Wales, a short list of 12 was created with detailed maps, plotlines, notes, and interviews.  I’ve only read three out of the twelve so perhaps have some reading to do.  The atlas uses ‘distant’, ‘deep’ and ‘artistic’ mapping of the novels and “hopes to stimulate new understandings of literature and place and the geographical nature of the human condition.”  Taking a look at the pages for Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce, it turns out that the Moulin Club, run by Druids, with “women selling the promise and practice of nightly relations at a fixed price” although situated on the fictional Patriarch Street, can be mapped onto Pier Street, which is where my B&B was located…

I certainly recommend that you take a look at the atlas, and you could probably lose a couple of hours working your way around.  They are also keen for people to get involved and contribute.


…and the winner of Welsh Librarian of the Year is….

After the day’s events we adjourned to the National Library of Wales for the Welsh Librarian of the Year and the Tir na n-Og awards.  I didn’t envy the committee having to decide which of the nominees would win the Welsh Librarian of the Year as all the candidates excelled in their field.  In the end the honour went to Tracey Stanley, Deputy University Librarian, Cardiff University.

Following on from this were the Tir na n-Og English language awards and we were treated to some mini interviews with the nominees about what their books were about, how they came to write them, how they became children’s authors originally and where they liked to write. Paul Jeorrett introduced and interviewed the authors and revealed he had compiled a play list to go with the books which was being played on his radio show practically as the awards were taking place.  The winner was Hayley Long with The Nearest Far Away Place, and I now have a copy waiting to be read at home.

On the second day I, unsurprisingly, attended the ‘cataloguing & metadata session’ which included two papers.  The first by Amy Staniforth about developing shared practice with colleagues across Wales which was about the WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) co-operative cataloguing group which emerged out of the WHELF shared LMS procurement process.  Amy described how the community of cataloguers has developed through discussions about international standards and the creation of templates, and has been empowering members to raise awareness of metadata more widely.  Although I have been part of this community it was informative to hear about the group’s activities and to clarify for me just how much we have achieved so far; not forgetting that one of the cataloguers, Jane Daniels ( Cardiff Metropolitan University), was nominated for Welsh Librarian of the Year.

Following this was Doreen Barnaville (Cardiff Metropolitan University) and Christine Megowan (Cardiff University) talking about curating and cataloguing artists’ books.  This presentation followed on from a cataloguing training day held earlier in the year.  Doreen and Christine’s presentation included a myriad of images of artists’ books, primarily from the collection at Cardiff Met, and talked about how cataloguers can best engage in recording the details of these items which may not fit into a traditional book format (think ‘pages’ of stone or wood, or 3D objects).  They also discussed ways of engaging students with these items, and the successful projects that had been achieved.


Blue cat avatar…

This post has turned out to embrace the more arts based aspects of the conference, which I certainly enjoyed, and I should perhaps mention here that participants at the conference were encouraged to make their own avatar out of play doh.  Here is mine, although I should point out that I was eating chocolate cake at the time, so is perhaps not the best example!

In my next (and final) post on the conference I will look at some of the other sessions that made an impact on me.


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The impact of metadata at the CILIP CIG 2014 conference

bug1This September I spent three days in Canterbury, at the University of Kent, attending the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference. Held every two years the CIG conference is an ideal opportunity for cataloguers and those working with metadata to get together. The theme this year was the impact of metadata and a variety of sessions arose looking at different aspects. Over the three days we looked at the Impact of metadata standards, the Impact on the organisation, the Impact of metadata on users, and the Impact of metadata professionals. There were formal papers, lightning talks and a poster session; as wfridgewordsell as a couple of optional tours at the end of the conference which I also managed to attend. Plus the best freebies I have so far received in a conference goody bag – including a fridge magnet of cataloguing words!

Impact of metadata standards

The ‘hot’ new metadata standard to be talked about these days is ‘Linked Data’ and the conference got off to a sizzling start with Thomas Meehan from University College London talking about Bibframe – which is the Library of Congress’ replacement for MARC and is based on linked data. If you want to know what Linked Data is you should look at Tim Berners-Lee’s four principles of linked data, which Meehan referred to. Unlike MARC, Linked data is not a cataloguing or library standard, it is greater than that and assumes an openness. MARC is difficult to share outside of the library world which is one reason why Linked data is seen as the future. Various libraries have published linked data, such as the Swedish National Library, German National Library and Cambridge University Library, whilst the British Library has been using it for the British National Bibliography (BNB).

The session moved on to Chris Biggs (Open University) who talked about OUDA – the Open University Digital Archive which will contain all the digital content from the OU from the last 45 years, including video, audio etc. He discussed the problems they faced including extracting metadata from a number of places, how not everything was catalogued in the past, how AV and text records were inconsistent, the standards that have changed or are partial, and how material has changed over the years with different carriers (broadcasts, videos, DVDs, digital files). Biggs detailed some of the processes they went through using MarcEdit, and the challenges they faced. So far the changes have been made in their LMS and are not yet in OUDA – but eventually all the data will be in OUDA and the discoverability will be better than with their LMS.

After a break Duncan Chalmers from Coutts gave a brief talk about RDA (Resource Description and Access) and using it with two metadata formats (MARC and Linked data). He pointed out that ‘metadata’ as a concept doesn’t figure in a user’s workflow, and that when people are used to searching for information on the web when they come into a library they notice when their searching on the library catalogue doesn’t work as well.

Following on from this Alan Danskin of the British Library took a very focussed look at certain rules within the RDA toolkit that need rethinking. His talk RDA and the cascading vortex of horror looked at a chain of instructions cataloguers would get sucked into when certain information was not available on an item; and he suggested some possible changes.

Impact on the organisation

image3The second day started with a very interesting talk from Laura Williams of the BBC who talked about embedded Media Managers who work alongside other staff at the BBC to capture and archive metadata. She looked primarily at TV metadata which is generated by film crews, and production teams. If the right information is not collated it has a knock on effect – for instance a programme synopsis won’t go into the Radio Times; or the cataloguers are unable to add the item to the archive. Williams also mentioned a couple of projects that are ongoing – the ‘Stockshop’ project which looks at which generated images might have value outside the use they were created for, or which have the potential to be used by someone else – for instance a view over London from a helicopter.

edinaNext up was Natasha Aburrow-Jones from EDINA looking at the impact of metadata within SUNCAT (Serials union catalogue). Originating as a project in 2003, SUNCAT was fully launched in 2005 and there are now 100 contributing libraries  which range from large national libraries to small specialised libraries; from Inverness to Cornwall, and includes one in Antarctica! They accept data in almost any format and quite surprisingly with ranging quality of metadata (it is bewildering how/why people submit records which don’t even have titles!).   The impact of the (non) use of data standards leads to a lack of consistency and non-matching with other records. They are currently designing a new in-house algorithm for matching metadata with “a multi dimensional radial match” .

Following on from this was a paper by Arwen Caddy who works in a corporate library for the company Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare. You probably won’t recognize the company name, but would certainly know the products – ranging from Gaviscon to Durex. About 4,000 books make up a small part of the research and development library, alongside a state of the art archive. This is a ‘Dim archive’ – meaning that it is a controlled repository which locks down documents so they can’t be tampered with; and they have permission from the CLA to store and give out papers to a select audience. By ‘locking down’ documents they are maintaining the integrity of the originals, regulating authentification and providing a trusted, non-tampered with copy (remember this is the corporate world!).   However, once the documents have entered the archive you can’t correct any mistakes – if you upload it to the wrong folder, that’s it, it has to stay there; if any errata are published you have to upload a whole new version as well; embarrassing mistakes stay on the catalogue. Caddy provided some tips on how to avoid mistakes; these included taking responsibility in the approval process and learning where mistakes were likely to happen, concentrating, and getting into a rhythm. There were a variety of other pitfalls in the process including confusions about chapter authors and book editors, and dates to file by (year the paper was accepted or the year it was published). She also provided some very good advice when dealing with her users: If you can’t always be right, be helpful!

Impact of metadata on users

peopleThe afternoon session looked at the impact of metadata on users. This included lightning talks on social media by Claire Sewell (Cambridge), which focussed on the use of Pinterest particularly in relation to their library science collection; Improving subject based metadata for LGBTQ related young adult books by Ruth Jenkins, a library school student; and enhancing the user experience and promoting bibliographic services at De Montfort University by Lynne Dyer.  Alongside these were a paper by Anne Welsh (lecturer at University College London) which discussed metadata output and its impact on researchers. She identified four user tasks of finding, identifying, selecting and obtaining. Whilst the ‘searching’ process is something that librarians are good at improving, there are problems at times with getting an ‘output’.

Impact of metadata professionals

DLrdaThe final morning looked at metadata professionals, and started with a paper by Deborah Lee from the Courtauld Institute of Art focussing on training new cataloguers to use RDA, when they have never used AACR2 – in contrast to all the conversion training that has been occurring for cataloguers who are used to one set of rules and now face a new set. Although training from scratch in RDA took a bit longer than training in AACR2 (due to relationship entities); on the whole, the beginner cataloguers didn’t have the same issues as established cataloguers because this is all they have known. Lee’s training programme did highlight the impact of local policies, and she emphasised the need to ensure that not only were these people trained to do the job in hand (and satisfy local requirements), but also that they were equipped with the skills to be excellent general cataloguers with the ability to do the job well elsewhere.

There were two talks from staff at the University of Kent looking at the changes, improvements and challenges they have been facing over the last few years. At one point they had enormous backlogs of items waiting to be catalogued and undertook a three year strategy to simplify and streamline services; this included establishing standard classification, RFID tagging core and main stock, and introducing shelf-ready. They worked to improve discoverability before they implemented their resource discovery tool. One of the talks was by two metadata assistants who had been recruited during this process and had come from non-academic library backgrounds and had brought fresh view points to the team.

celineThe morning also included a paper from Celine Carty (Cambridge) entitled Holistic cataloguing, or the fundamental interconnectedness of all things which provided some reflection on managing cataloguing projects and being aware of the impact on other teams. Whilst the cataloguing team may be improving their workflow, what about the people who may be processing or shelving the books – can they cope with an increased workflow, or are they involved in different projects? The key theme was ‘communication’ and she emphasised the need to speak to everyone – not just line managers, but all staff.

specialcollAt the end of the conference there was the chance to participate in some visits, and since I had planned to stay in the area for a few days and didn’t have to rush off to catch a train, I was able to do both visits on offer. Firstly I went on a tour of the University of Kent’s special collections; they house the British cartoon archive and have an extensive theatre collection, and were kind enough to put out some grecathedrallib2at displays representing many of their collections. Finally I went to see the Canterbury Cathedral library, which felt like going behind scenes at the cathedral. They house several parish collections including a ‘library in a cupboard’; and over 30,000 pre 1900 items.



Overall I had a great experience during the three days; I gained a lot from all the papers, managed to catch up with a few people, had my first proper attempt at tweeting from a conference, and was pleased that there was a greater representation from Wales than the last time.  Apologies if I have misrepresented anyone’s talk, and also if I haven’t mentioned you (purely down to space – it was all great!).


Post-conference I stayed on in the area for a few days and even managed to find Bagpuss’ shop!

bagpusshopTweets from the conference have been collected in Storify, the slides will be made available on the CILIP CIG webpages, and papers published in the CIG journal later this year.


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Social media workshop inspiration

Social-Media-MarketingYesterday I attended an all day library social media workshop, and came away enthused, encouraged and full of inspiration.  We looked at perceived barriers to using social media, creating good content, mapping tools to tasks, and digital signage.  There were plenty of break out sessions, and group discussions and activities, and a chance to reflect on what we were already doing and what we would like to do in the future.  At the end of the day we all had to make a pledge to ‘do something new’ in the next few months, we wrote it down on a yellow sticky, and we will be chased to see that we have done what we pledged! 

My pledge involved a new blog that I am setting up for the cataloguing department Iwork in.  There will be five of us contributing to it, but three of these have never blogged before.  I set up the bare bones of the blog just before I went on my Christmas break, so the next few months will see me (and the rest of the team) getting to grips with it; and starting to publicise it.  Our target audience will be the staff and students of the University, although anyone else is welcome to read it!  We will be promoting interesting books that pass through our hands, giving highlights on aspects of our job, explaining the vagaries of classification schemes, linking books to lecturers, and anything else we can think of.  Basically trying to be high visibility cataloguers!

During yesterday’s workshop in the final session when we were discussing our pledges, one of my library colleagues informed me that she had a much better understanding of the pressures and problems we experienced in the cataloguing department because of following myself and another of our cataloguers on twitter (and reading our blogs); for instance she hadn’t heard of RDA before we started talking about it (and I wouldn’t have expected her to either).  This means that when she has a pile of donations towering above her desk, and we aren’t doing them, she at least has some understanding of why.  These comments only further encouraged me to get on with the blog, and to think seriously of getting a twitter account for the department too.  We might not get hundreds of followers, but hopefully we’ll be spreading information to the right people.

It will be a few weeks before we really get going, but for future reference please check out our cataloguing blog and give us some feedback.


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Smug tweaking, shrinking cataloguers, and the corridor of uncertainty: CILIP Cataloguing & Indexing Group conference 2012

Although I am sure others will blog about #CIG12 in a more indepth manner*  I just wanted to express my delight about the excellent conference that took place earlier this week in Sheffield.  Two days packed full of thought provoking presentations, 25 speakers and just over 100 attendees; at times my brain was hurting, and I felt weighed down with concern about the things I didn’t know but really should; whilst at other moments I felt proud to be a cataloguer, and inspired to tackle new things.

There were four themed sessions spread out over the two days; Working with new standards, Working co-operatively, New challenges for cataloguers; and Developing working practices.  RDA, as to be expected, was a key issue to be talked about.  Celine Carty brought us updates from the ALA conference, and managed to succinctly condense 5 days into one talk.  It was extremely useful hearing about the view from across the pond, and she also gave us a great handout of links too!

There was quite a contrast between this conference and the last CIG conference in 2010 with

Keen attendees ready & waiting

attitudes to RDA, from what I can remember of two years ago, most people in the room weren’t really sure about how they would be tackling RDA, and were waiting for guidance from someone else.  This time round a good 50% of the audience were actively preparing for RDA, were devising training sessions for their staff (or looking for online material they could use), or were very aware of what work they had to do.  I also don’t think that anyone in the room was thinking of it as ‘Retirement Day Approaching’.  Celine Carty passed on some take home messages; things like “its now when not if” and “evolution not revolution”, she also commented that actually it can be quite good not to be the trailblazers.  While the rules are still being refined, and problems still being ironed out, its quite nice to be able to learn from what is happening in the US.  Stuart Hunt also gave us some food for thought in his session on ‘Implementing RDA in your ILS’, and pointed out that as well as us cataloguers having to get our heads round RDA, that we also had a lot of communication work to do – we need to talk to system vendors, and record supply agencies, colleagues who work on the front line and those who are library management.  We also need to consider whether our systems are ready for RDA, there are new fields, will they display or be indexed, will there be problems loading data into the system etc etc.  Anne Welsh & Katharine White also reminded us that there is always change, and we already have hybrid systems.  We need to accept that there never was a better time to embrace RDA, although we should question everything; and that standards, materials, and even students are always evolving.

Conference venue – Halifax Hall

Although RDA was casting a big shadow over us, there were plenty of other topics to discuss too.  Deborah Lee introduced the idea of the proposed UK NACO funnel, a project to collaborate on creating authority files.  Traditionally a funnel is managed by one person which is a huge commitment, and there can be delay in training new members to join; this current project however is aiming for a cascade of training  and aims to get as many participants acting independently as soon as possible with a critical mass of people who are happy to train others.  It will be a great professional development opportunity for anyone who gets involved.

As we are probably all aware we are in the midst of a time of many challenges for cataloguers, as Heather Jardine noted – ‘change is the new normal’.  We are having to face restructuring and streamlining, changes in roles, as well as changes in rules and materials.  There were several presentations demonstrating how various cataloguers are adapting  to these challenges including Helen Williams’ overview of ‘transforming a bibliographic services team from copy cataloguers to metadata creators’.  Her team have had a growing involvement in their institutional repository LSERO; with a review of workflows, additional training and comprehensive documentation the team have become multi-skilled, and better future-proofed.

Shelf-ready reared its ugly head towards the end of the conference (sorry, I admit I am not a fan!).  What still stood out for me, (and is one of my biggest problems with the whole shelf ready thing), was the standard of records being supplied – the poor quality, wrong classmarks, e-book records for print records, etc etc and even some poor processing.  What kind of service do vendors think they are providing?  And since so many of us are guilty of ‘smug tweaking’* why aren’t there more ‘good’ records available?

CIG do great bags!

I haven’t mentioned everybody who talked, but would like to say I gained something from every speaker; I’m not a fan of cricket but really enjoyed hearing abut the Marylebone Cricket Club library courtesy of Neil Robinson, and the challenges he faced with revamping a bespoke classification system (and his corridor of uncertainty); and even though I’m not a fan of shelf-ready I appreciated hearing about experiences from Sheffield with Emily Bogie, and Warwick with Christina Claridge.  And I really should mention the High visibility cataloguing blog and Cat23 –  a project I’m keen to hear more about.

The conference was great, the people were great, and as a tiny aside I was extremely pleased with the range of cold/soft drinks available at break times!  I don’t drink tea/coffee, and wouldn’t expect more than a glass of water to be offered (don’t even get that sometimes), so a multitude of fridges with a variety of beverages made me very happy!  The cakes were good too…

I also really liked that there weren’t any parallel sessions – so I got to hear everybody; and the concept of having lightning round talks was good too.  Ten minute snippets of projects and ideas, although shame-facedly I over ran in my own sessions and got flashed the ‘red card’.

Break time

My only regret is that I didn’t get to talk to some people who are Twitter contacts (we need Twitter icons/names on our badges!); however, I did talk to people who I didn’t previously know, and that is always a good thing.  I’m looking forward to the next CIG conference already! 

* See for example @archelina (Rachel Playforth) and @stjerome1st (Lynne Dyer)

* Can’t remember who coined this phrase at the conference, so apologies are due!  However, I do have to put my hand up and admit that I indulge in this practice.

All the presentations are due to be added to the CIG website soon.


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A summary of the ‘Conversations with Cataloguers in Wales’ event [Part 3]

So, we come to the afternoon session of the ‘Conversations with Cataloguers in Wales’ event.  For this final session we had two speakers, and then a discussion slot.  The first of our two speakers, Elly Cope, was sadly unable to be with us due to illness, however she did send her presentation and notes and so, using myself as a stand-in, we were able to hear her talk by proxy.

From UDC to DDC: reclassification at the University of Bath  was the third of our papers looking at a reclassification project.  This project had started in 2009, and was still ongoing – in fact there was mention that there was possibly another 17 years to go before it was completed!  The hierarchy of the library service at Bath was explained, and it was shown that the project was very Academic Services driven, whilst the Cataloguing team’s involvement grew along the way.  The background to classification at Bath showed that it was traditionally done by the Academic Services staff rather than Technical Services.  They had an interesting story (possibly just a rumour!) that UDC was adopted by the first librarian after the Second World War because it was too expensive to buy things in from America and they couldn’t afford the Dewey schedules; thus UDC was seen as similar and cheaper.  Over the intervening years the system of amending or updating had become very haphazard and at the start of the project they had 35 different classification variants in use.  A task group was set up to review the problems and suggest a methodology of tackling the problem; this included looking at the possibility of out-sourcing the classification.  They proposed that Dewey should be introduced across the whole library, and to use the Coutts shelf-ready service for new books.  In 2009 a pilot project was run on the 720s (Architecture), an area identified as having received a lot of complaints in the past.  The pilot took 22 weeks and 6,768 items were reclassified.  As it was deemed successful they decided to extend it to some other subject areas; however they also decided not to use the shelf-ready services and thus the cataloguing team were responsible for down-loading records and Dewey numbers.  In 2010 Management books had been added to the list of subjects being converted and there was a noticable increase in workload and some demoralisation issues (seeing new books come in as UDC and yet knowing at some point they would have to be redone).  The decision was made for all new material to be classified as Dewey, with the faculty librarians being responsibile for the previous editions retro-conversions.  Each summer there is targeted retro-conversion project, and with more procedures becoming embedded, and every item that passes through the workroom being ‘Deweyfied’ it is hoped that the project may speed up a bit (and not take the 17 years as predicted!)

The final presentation for the day came from Jemma Francis and was entitled Capturing & archiving Welsh government publications.  Jemma works for the Welsh Government where her role includes managing the Library management system, overseeing cataloguing and managing the publications archive which has all new Welsh Government publications added to it.  To capture the publications for cataloguing she needs to search the corporate website, as well as relying on colleagues for alerts about new publications, plus receiving copies of circulars and notices via distribution lists.  All these items are catalogued and there are currently 30,000 publications on the library catalogue.  The library is also involved in an archive scanning project at present, aiming to make resources more accessible – both internally, and to the public in general.  They have a project team who have 30,000 items to scan, at least a third of which are not already on the catalogue.

To finish off the day we had a discussion session, which Stuart Hunt, the chair of CILIP’s Cataloguing & Indexing Group (CIG) facilitated for us.  As was perhaps to be expected, having a room full of over 40 cataloguers and inviting them to join in a discussion, did lead to quite a lot of silent moments!  By nature cataloguers are often relatively introverted individuals (well, that is the stereotype, and we didn’t do much to alter that view!).  Stuart talked about CIG and how it worked, what it does for its members, and also how CIG Scotland functions.  The aim of our discussion was to see if there was a desire to form some kind of all Wales cataloguing group or forum, whether this be affiliated to CILIP, and be CIG Wales, or whether a stand alone group.  The general consensus seemed to be that, yes, we would like to have some kind of group – there was even a general feeling that becoming CIG Wales would be a good thing.  However, with a show of hands we demonstrated that only a relatively small percentage of people at the event were CILIP members.  Stuart pointed out that it was possible for people to join the Cataloguing & Indexing Group without being members of CILIP (pay a smaller membership fee of £30 to CIG rather than main CILIP membership), and then if individuals lived in Wales they would automatically become members of CIG Wales.  The only proviso being that the elected committee members (chair, treasurer, secretary) of CIG Wales would have to be CILIP members, but if we wanted any other committee members in addition to these three that would be fine (and they wouldn’t necessarily have to belong to CILIP).

It is very difficult to make these kind of decisions in a large group, and for the time being we felt that we could go away and think about things, and take up the discussion in a different space – on an online forum for example, or an email list or a wiki.  If we were to have some kind of group we would also need to decide what we wanted out of it – would it be easier as a group to put on practical sessions?  Even if we weren’t CIG Wales we could still liaise with CIG to arrange training sessions.

With this in mind I have set up a wiki on pbworks as an initial space to start discussions http://cataloguersinwales.pbworks.com/  I admit I am pretty much a novice at setting up/using wikis so if it looks a bit rough and ready, and you think it needs more adding  – then it probably does (well, please let me know/give advice!).  But please do join in the discussion (especially in you live/work in Wales).

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A summary of the ‘Conversations with Cataloguers in Wales’ event [Part 2]

After a comfort break the event continued and the second session of the day started with myself (Karen Pierce) and Ken Gibb talking about Discovering hidden gems: cataloguing the Cardiff Rare Books Collection.  Cardiff University (CU) acquired the collection in 2010 by purchasing it from Cardiff Public Library with financial assistance from the National Assembly for Wales.  The background to the collection, and how it came to be built up by the public library in the days when they were hoping to establish a National Library in Cardiff (they lost out to Aberystwyth) was explained.  When the public library put the collection up for sale this provoked a national campaign to attempt to keep the books in Cardiff, or in Wales in general.  There were many discussions and eventually the Heritage Minister intervened and the University was helped to acquire the collection.  Whilst negotiations were taking place a 10 % scoping report was commissioned, and this was undertaken by three cataloguers from CU.  As well as noting author, date and title, we looked at marginalia, provenance, physical condition, and subject matter.  A report was produced for CyMAL.  Subsequently, phase 2 of the project lead to creating a spreadsheet of all 14,000 items prior to the sale.  Once the books were purchased, they needed cataloguing.  Our cataloguing team didn’t have the necessary expertise, but we were able to get funding for a (3 year) Rare books cataloguer who joined us in the summer of 2011.  Ken (the person appointed!) undertook a 1% project to get an idea of how long it was going to take to catalogue the various subsections of books, and to establish the rules we would be using (DCRM(B), etc).  We believe that about 40% of the collection has provenance information, and our most exciting (provenance) find so far is the signature of John Dee (the Elizabethan astronomer and mathematician) in a copy of Thomas Aquinas.  Although still at an early stage in the project we have also found two volumes bound in 1597 for Pietro Duodo the Venetian ambassador to the King of France.  Additionally we have a copy of Dickens’ Christmas Carol bound in translucent vellum inlaid with mother of pearl; this rare style of binding was developed by the binder Cedric Chivers and won him a gold medal at the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1907.  We also have a near complete collection of books published by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, including a uniquely embroidered copy of The Floure and the Leaf.

The next presentation was by Kristine Chapman & Louise Carey talking about Cataloguing art books at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales .  The National Museum Wales has seven sites, and have collections covering art, history, science and archaeology.  The library was set up in 1914, and moved to purpose built premises in the 1920s, but has outgrown its space, resulting in book collections also being kept in curatorial departments.  The art library contains a variety of material, from monographs on artists, to exhibition catalogues.  Although predominantly it is the Museum staff who use the library, it is also used by students and researchers too.  There is a trust system for loans as the library is unmanned, and slips are placed on the shelf where the item has been taken from.  The classification system used in the art library is the Metropolitan Museum of Art system which was first published in 1911.  The MMA itself switched to Library of Congress in 2002, and thus it is a system that isn’t being updated.  It is more in depth than Dewey for art, and is much better for exhibition catalogues; and for the Museum’s purposes it fits better with their spatial idiosyncrasies.  Unsurprisingly it is not that well known, so new staff are unfamiliar with its format, and inconsistancies can creep in; in addition, as it hasn’t been updated there are outdated geographical areas, and no keep up with technoligical advances.  Monographs are shelved by artist (or predominant artist where more than one featured), and exhibition catalogues by location and gallery.  Sometimes multiple copies of an item are shelved at different places depending on what the book focuses on, for instance an exhibition catalogue containing works of Gwen John (painter) and Lucie Rie (ceramic artist) is shelved in the ceramics collection, and under Gwen John monographs.  They are happy using the MMA system as it works well for the space their collection is in (which is pretty full!).

The final presentation for the morning was on a topic that most of us were probably unfamiliar with.  Miranda Morton’s talk, entitled Term Cymru: how do you say “Twitter” in Welsh? was about her work as a terminologist at the Welsh Government, where the two languages of Wales (Welsh and English) have to be treated equally.  As part of the translation service her work involves translating statutory guidelines and legislation into Welsh.  Within the European Union Welsh is not one of the 23 official languages, but is recognised as a co-official language – thus material from the EU isn’t published in Welsh, but if a query was posed in Welsh, a Welsh reply would be given.  As an example of how busy they are, the translation service provided 4,266 written translations in a 6 month period, with an average of 2,000 words per day per translator.  With tight deadlines and a number of translators, and material being required for different purposes, there can be problems with consistancy.  Additionally, there can be ambiguity over terminology,  specialist definitions for different sectors, and the use of colloquial terms in campaigns, which can all mean problems for the translators.  In 2004 a means to combat these problems was established with the setting up of Term Cymru.  A free resource, which is also available to the public, it is essentially a database of terminology with contextual explanations for some terms, and subject tags.    With 49,000 records to date it is due for some weeding and streamlining, but it is an extremely useful tool for standardising government terminology in Enlgish/Welsh.

After our stimulating morning we stopped for lunch, and many informal and interesting discussions took place in this break.

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A summary of the ‘Conversations with Cataloguers in Wales’ event [Part 1]


On Tuesday 6th March 2012 over 40 people gathered in a room in Cardiff to talk about cataloguing.  Frankly I was amazed that so many people wanted to attend an event on cataloguing in Wales, but I was also delighted and believe it demonstrated that there is a need or a desire for events of this type to be held.  Attendees travelled from as far as Wrexham, Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Carmarthen, as well as coming from Swansea, Newport, Merthyr and Bridgend, and they represented academic libraries, public libraries, government libraries and museums.  As they waited for the day to begin they enjoyed coffee and welsh cakes and seemed excited to see the room filling up so much.

The first session for the day focussed on reclassification projects, one from Cardiff University which has essentially yet to start, and one from Aberystwyth University which was completed ahead of schedule.

Helen Price Saunders started the day off with her talk Reclassification, collection management and ideas of nation: the Salisbury Library.  Enoch Salisbury (1819-1890) built up a large collection of books over 60 years, predominantly of Welsh interest (in Welsh, about Wales, by Welsh writers, about the Welsh borders).  The collection was acquired by the University College of South Wales & Monmouthshire (through some secret machinations) in 1886 when Salisbury was beset with financial difficulties.  It was hoped that the collection might form a basis for a National Library, but these hopes were not realised for Cardiff.  The collection is now housed in the Arts & Social Studies Library at Cardiff University, but is split in two – the older part of the collection being held in Special Collections, and the rest on the top floor of the library.  The in-house classification scheme for this collection is relatively simple; it covers the ‘celtic’ languages in general with the ‘Welsh’ section being more comprehensive.  It has grown and fluctuated over the years, and has some rather erroneous sections.  Helen pointed out some of her favourite ‘bad bits’ which included WG1 – General, Encyclopaedias, etc alongside WG45 Encyclopaedias.  There were also three separate numbers covering Theology.

Over the years there have been complaints and requests to have the system changed.  The rest of the library in that building uses Library of Congress, so this is the classification scheme that would be used.  However, LOC has its own ‘bad bits’ for example “For Wales, see England” and doesn’t really cope with the specificity needed.  The identity of the collection has always been important, but has gradually been eroded over the years, changing the classification scheme will only add to this.  Helen has been left with a difficult task in deciding upon the best options for the collection and its classification, whilst continuing to maintain its unique identity.

The second talk of the morning was by Dorothy Hartley – “All change please!” The end of the line for Dewey and UDC at Aberystwyth UniversityThe Thomas Parry library at Aberystwyth University used to have three classification schemes in use; UDC, DDC and LoC.  This was due to various mergers of institutions over the years.  Their first plan was to turn all the items classified by UDC into DDC, with the thought that in time the LoC section would also be weeded and reclassified too.  They carried out a classification mapping exercise and began some initial work on the project.  However, yet another insitutional merger in 2007 prompted another rethink about classification schemes, the bringing together of books in one location, and the ease with which they could transfer books between libraries and the decision was made to reclassify everything to LoC instead.  There were 9500 books from one library that needed cataloguing on the LMS and reclassifying from UDC to LoC, and anther 38000 already in stock but with DDC or UDC classmarks.  Work began in April 2008 with a target finish date of Summer 2012.  Various issues had to be dealt with, ranging from highly specialised subject matter areas and stock duplication between three sites.  In the Thomas Parry library, the library space was in constant use so they had to avoid disruption for users as much as possible, as well as a having a long overdue weed take place.  Communication was key, and they kept people informed in a variety of ways including academic liaison, the library newsletter, and the undergraduate librarianship course used the project as a case study.  Weeding was important, and some subject librarians managed to weed their section before the reclassification took place, although this wasn’t always the case.  The project was completed ahead of schedule in December 2011.  Dorothy felt that there were several benefits for doing all the reclassification in-house, which included greater flexibility, more time for imput from colleagues and academic staff, and kept the work local which was important in a rural location.  They also noticed that their team-working skills were enhanced, and they got to know colleagues much better. 

It was extremely positive to hear about a project finishing early, and to see that by deciding to do the work in-house, staff gained from the experience.

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